The Media Ecosystem Collapse

Who else but Clay Shirky would draw on Joseph Tainter’s seminal 1988 book, “The Collapse of Complex Societies,” to discuss the downfall of a once dominant business model?

Noting the regeneration of media on the web, Shirky also makes this very interesting observation:

When ecosystems change and inflexible institutions collapse, their members disperse, abandoning old beliefs, trying new things, making their living in different ways than they used to. It’s easy to see the ways in which collapse to simplicity wrecks the glories of old. But there is one compensating advantage for the people who escape the old system: when the ecosystem stops rewarding complexity, it is the people who figure out how to work simply in the present, rather than the people who mastered the complexities of the past, who get to say what happens in the future.

Hmm, I wonder what the The Oil Drum gang or the Resilience folks would make of this.

3 Responses to “The Media Ecosystem Collapse”

  1. teofilo says:

    That quoted paragraph is pretty much exactly what David Stuart argues in Anasazi America, a book which doesn’t seem to be discussed much in the “collapse” literature but should be.

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    That’s pretty interesting. BTW, great book by Stuart, of which its importance to the contemporary collapse debate you discuss nicely here.

  3. teofilo says:

    I considered including a link to that post, but I figured it would be uncouth to link to myself so directly.  So thanks for doing it for me.

    There’s apparently going to be an updated second edition coming out soon.  Hopefully it’ll get some attention; the collapse issue has become much more salient in the public discourse in the ten years since the first edition came out.

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